In-Depth

12 Notable Windows 7 Notebooks

Tablets may be the current consumer rage, but notebooks are here to stay. Here are a dozen that have caught our eyes.

Though tablets are grabbing a bigger share of the spotlight, notebooks are not exactly being relegated into the dustbin of IT history. In fact, they're getting thinner and cheaper, and are increasingly surpassing desktops as the preferred computing device at many businesses. Here are a few standouts.


HP DM1z

Unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the ultraportable -- and ultra-affordable -- HP DM1z includes an 11.6-inch display, a 1.7GHz AMD Athlon II Neo Mobile processor, AMD Mobility Radeon HD 4225 graphics, 2GB RAM, a 250GB hard drive and the 64-bit edition of Windows 7 Home Premium. The keyboard is 92 percent full size. In addition, HP equipped the DM1z with Microsoft Office Starter 2010 and 60 days of free updates to Symantec Norton Internet Security 2010. The notebook, with a starting list price of $499.99, has many upgrade options. Users can choose to add a spare battery, calculator, external DVD drive and thousands of software programs. The unit weighs 3.24 pounds and is available now.


Samsung Sliding PC 7 Series

Samsung has the device for professionals uncertain whether they want a tablet or a notebook: The Samsung PC 7 Series, previously code-named "Oak Trail," is powered by an Intel Atom processor and fitted out with Windows 7. The PC 7 series features a sliding keyboard coupled with a compact, light design. The display slides up to reveal a physical keyboard, allowing users to opt for a multitouch display or a notebook's traditional keyboard and mouse combination. Weighing in at 2.2 pounds, the PC 7 Series features a 10.1-inch display supported by an enhanced HD resolution of 1366 x 768. It includes a webcam, a nine-hour battery, 2GB of memory and Intel-integrated graphics. Samsung expects to begin shipping the device in March at a starting MSRP of $699.


Sony VAIO F 3D

Sony, long recognized as a leader in the entertainment and consumer worlds, showed off the newest member of its Vaio notebook family at January's CES. The Sony Vaio F features a 3D backlight 16-inch display, as well as a built-in 3D sync transmitter and an included pair of 3D active glasses, allowing users to view 3D content such as photos and video. Sony uses an Intel Core i7 processor with four cores, on the Sandy Bridge platform; supports Intel Hyper-Threading and Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, and taps Nvidia GeForce GT 540M with a 1GB dedicated VRAM graphics card and S-Force Front Surround 3D audio system. The F Series also includes HDMI output and features Windows 7 Home Premium preloaded. It's expected to list at a starting price of $1,700 when it begins shipping imminently.


Dell XPS 17

At CES, Dell expanded its family of notebooks with the addition of the XPS 17 3D laptop, featuring Nvidia 3DTV Play software and the Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics card. Viewing the display in three dimensions requires Nvidia NVision 3D glasses, which are not included with the notebook. Also optional: A compatible 3D HDTV for watching 3D Blu-ray discs or compatible PC games during downtime. The device includes JBL speakers, an integrated subwoofer and HD video streaming with Skype. Power users may also have the Intel Core i7 processor options that can deliver performance improvements of up to 42 percent for content creation, according to Intel. Currently shipping, pricing starts at $949.


Toshiba Portege R705

A member of the Toshiba Digital Products Division 700 family, the Portege R705 notebooks include the R705-P35 and the R705-P41. The device's Li-Ion (66Wh, six-cell) battery provides up to eight hours of power, with many users reporting longer life, especially when they tap the computer's energy-saving tools. Both models come equipped with Windows 7 Home Premium; a 13.3-inch widescreen display; 4GB DDR3 1066MHz memory; 500GB HDD and Intel-integrated graphics. The P35, which lists for $899, has an Intel Core i3-370M, while the P41 model includes an Intel Core i5-460M processor and lists for about $930. The two units are available now.


Lenovo IdeaPad U260

Lenovo pushed the design envelope with its IdeaPad U260, which is less than one-inch thick, weighs less than three pounds, and is crafted out of a single piece of magnesium-aluminum alloy. The device, priced at about $1,049, also features a leather palm rest and a glass touchpad. The notebook features a 12.5-inch display with an HD 16:9 screen, an Intel Core i5 ULV processor, a 320GB hard drive, 4GB RAM and HDMI. It's available in either mocha brown or Clementine orange.

Acer Iconia
Busy professionals can have a notebook and a tablet, too. The Acer dual-screen Iconia is a 14-inch notebook with an extra 14-inch screen where users would usually find a keyboard. Place all 10 fingers on the additional screen and a virtual keyboard appears; place a hand on the screen, and the proprietary Acer apps-launcher pops up. Users also can view a Web site across both screens if they choose. An Intel Core i5 processor powers Iconia, which includes 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel graphics, 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, and a hard drive of up to 750GB. It also includes two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI and VGA. Iconia, which Acer calls a concept device, is not yet available and has no price tag.


Alienware M17x

Although Alienware is better known among gamers than accountants, the company's graphics-intensive, powerful, portable and built-to-order computers may be a good fit for professionals whose jobs push the computing envelope. The company's M17x, which starts at $1,499, features second-generation quad-core Intel Core i7 processors; a 3D-capable, 17-inch 120hz full HD display, and 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M graphics. Users choose their own features, ranging from the Microsoft family of Windows 7 options; memory choices from 4GB dual channel DDR 3 at 1333MHz to 16GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 1333MHz; two display card options; and three Intel processor selections.


Dell Inspiron Duo

Many IT professionals and VARs are familiar with the Dell Inspiron line. It is, after all, the company's most popular notebook line, according to Dell. With the Inspiron Duo, Dell moved into the convertible arena, creating a notebook that lets users seamlessly switch from touch to type. The device includes a 10-inch HD display; Windows 7 Home Premium; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM; Integrated Intel NM10; and almost four hours of battery life.


Samsung Note PC 9 Series

Unveiled at CES, the Samsung Note PC 9 Series is a line of durable, lightweight laptops that weigh less than three pounds. Samsung built the series out of Duralumin, typically used in advanced aircraft, according to the vendor. The notebook includes a 13.3-inch display and a wide 160-degree viewing angle. It uses an Intel Core i5 processor, and taps the new Samsung power-efficient lithium polymer batteries to achieve an average of up to 6.5 hours of battery life, according to the company. The notebook comes with either Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional, and pricing starts at $1,599.


HP Envy 17 Beats

At CES, Hewlett-Packard Co. added its CoolSense Technology advanced cooling capabilities to the HP Envy 17, a high-performance notebook. The laptop includes AMD switchable graphics technology and AMD Radeon HD 6850M discrete graphics, as well as second-generation Intel Core processors, and is designed for multimedia. The HP Envy 17 wirelessly shares content with TVs and other screens that use Intel Wireless Display technology. The notebook also includes Beat Audio and an HP Triple Bass Reflex Subwoofer, a 17.3-inch HD BrightView display and up to 3TB of storage capacity. Pricing starts at $1,299.99.


Panasonic Toughbook F9

Available in a number of configurations, the Panasonic Toughbook lineup is designed for the rigors of frequent airline travelers, construction sites, the military and others whose work environment does not typically include the four walls of an office. The new Panasonic 14.1-inch Toughbook F9 features Windows 7 Professional, and is powered by an Intel Core i5-520M vPro processor 2.40GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.93GHz and Intel Smart Cache 3MB. The device includes a 320GB shock-mounted, flex-connected and removable hard drive and 2GB standard SDRAM. The "business rugged" F9, which weighs 3.6 pounds, has a list price of $2,899 -- but Panasonic claims it has a 2.2 percent failure rate, compared with the industry standard of 22 percent for business laptops.

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